Child Care in Canada
1. I found a job, but I have a small child. What child care options are available in Canada?
About half of all Canadian parents use some form of child care for their children. Depending how old your child is, you can use:
•Infant day care
•Toddler day care
•Preschool day care
All children's day care facilities, both public and private, have to have a licence. Normally, day care staff speak English. However, children can easily learn a new language and speak freely at home in their native language. Of course, you can enrol your child in a day care where staff speak your native language. In such a day care, children will feel more comfortable, but the adaptation of your child to Canada will be longer and more difficult. After landing in Canada you have to apply for child care as soon as possible, because many day care facilities and kindergartens have waiting lists. Sometimes, after waiting a long time, when you finally get the place, your child is already over the appropriate age, and must be enrolled in a day care for an older age group. If you cannot find a place in a suitable day care or kindergarten, you can temporarily hire a babysitter or nanny.
See more at the site www.ontarioimmigration.ca/en/study/OI_HOW_STUDY_CHILDREN.html:
•Information and resources about child care and home care options in Ontario.
•Child care options: child care centres.
•Introducing your child to child care.
•Frequently asked questions about child care in Ontario.
•Child care options: home child care.
•Ontario’s Early Years Centres.
•Ontario Child Care Supplement (OCCS) for Working Families.
2. How can I find an appropriate day care for my child?
The best way to find a day care is to seek advice from your friends, family members, or neighbours. Make sure that the centre is licensed and do some research to find out if there are any complaints against the centre. Then, learn what your child’s daily life will be like and look at such factors as meals and snacks, naps, playtime and socializing, and age-appropriate education. Also ask about the centre’s policies for drop-in visits. A good day care centre will not object to a parent dropping in unexpectedly. In some centres there are video cameras connected to the Internet and parents may see what their child is doing at that moment. If a centre you are considering does not meet your expectations, do not hesitate to look for another centre. In Toronto you can find a day care or kindergarten at the Child Care Locator website
Using your postal code, you will find the addresses of different child care centres, and the type of centre will be indicated by colour: yellow (infant 0-18 months), orange (toddler 18 months-2½ years), blue (kindergarten) and green (school age grade 1 and up). Private ethnic day care addresses can be found in your community local newspapers.
3. What can I expect from infant day care?
Day care centres which care for children from 6 weeks to 18 months are called infant day care centres. In a good infant day care there are no more than 10 infants in one group with no fewer than 3 caregivers. Infant day care daily indoor and outdoor activities include crafts, songs, games and appropriate toys designed to provide the perfect atmosphere for growing minds and bodies. Caregivers feed infants according to written parental instructions. Infants who cannot walk usually are separated from other children during active indoor and outdoor play periods. Infant daily records are documented (e.g. sleep times, eating, diapering, etc.). To enrol your child in infant day care successfully, it's a good idea to apply in advance. In some cases you can apply even while you are pregnant.
4. What can I expect from toddler day care?
Day care centres which care for children from 18 months to 2.5 years are called toddler day care centres. In a good toddler day care there are no more than 15 toddlers in one group with no fewer than 3 caregivers. Because the toddler years are a time for transition and developing independent skills, they are taught about removing their shoes, dressing for outdoors, moving from the bottle to the cup, learning to use spoons, toilet training, etc. Toddlers start spending time in groups and learn teamwork. Also, they learn more about animals through books, songs, and storytelling.
5. What can I expect from preschool day care?
Day care centres which care for children from 2.5 to 5 years are called preschool day care centres. In a good preschool day care there are no more than 16 children in one group with no fewer than 2 caregivers, who are required to have early childhood education certification. Preschool programs include opportunities for exploring indoors and outdoors, participating in visual, dramatic and music arts, discovering science, developing social motor skills and problem solving. There are literacy programs, introducing children to the letters of the alphabet through songs, rhymes and poems, recognizing their own name and learning to print it and beginner reading, individually and in a group. Math programs include counting to 100, understanding quantity and number relationships and learning to identify Canadian currency and its value. Some centres have music classes and organized field trips to local parks and gardens, museums, zoos, etc. Usually parents can become involved in such trips as volunteers.
6. What can I expect from kindergarten?
Programs which prepare children from 3 to 5 years for school are called kindergartens. In a good kindergarten there are no more than 20 children in one group with no fewer than 2 teachers. Most kindergarten programs have one certified teacher and one teaching assistant. In spite of the children being the same age there is a big difference between kindergarten and preschool day care, because preschool day care works under the Ministry of Community and Social Services and its goal is to provide physical and spiritual development of children through games and entertainment, while kindergarten works under the Ministry of Education and its goal is to prepare children for school, using class activities where the teachers organize the learning activities in relation to specific core curriculum programs designed for kindergarten students. Kindergarten classes are usually based in elementary schools and operate during normal school hours. For this reason, children's play time and outdoor activities may be limited in comparison to day care programs. Children with special needs and immigrant children, who are learning a new language, will be assessed when they start kindergarten. A special program will be developed, if needed, to support and help them meet the curriculum expectations. Kindergarten programs give children a positive start in school and prepare them for the more formal learning that begins in Grade One.
Source: Kindergarten http://edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/kindergarten.html.
7. What vaccinations are used in Canada?
Vaccination protects children from specific diseases including many that are easily spread in daycare centres. Routine childhood vaccines are usually free of charge and given in doctors' offices and public clinics. Vaccination is not compulsory in Canada, but some provinces require certain vaccines to be given before a child can enter day care. Parents have a choice as to whether to give their child vaccinations or not. If they choose not to, the child may be told that he or she must stay home from school if there is an outbreak of a disease. Each province and territory decides which vaccines it will provide free of charge to the public. At the website
www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/programs/immunization/static/immunization_tool.html you will learn about Ontario’s free vaccine program for pregnant mothers, and for children upon reaching the following ages:
•2 & 4 months
•4-6 years old
For more information visit Vaccine Safety www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/im/safety-securite-eng.php.
8. What does child care cost in Canada?
The average cost of one month of child care in Ontario, according the Ontario Child Care Cost Information website www.godaycare.com/child-care-cost/ontario, is shown in the table below.
At this site you can also find the average cost in the other provinces and territories of Canada.
9. What is the Child Care Fee Subsidy Program?
Children who live in low income families can enrol in licensed child care and out-of-school free time programs, which receive funding from municipal, provincial and federal sources. Families with children up to 12 years old who live or work in Toronto can be eligible for these programs. Also, there are free on-site child care programs for newcomer families who attend English as a Second Language (ESL), Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) or Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) classes. Such on-site child care programs are available for children aged six months to six years.
Because of the long, first-come first-served, subsidy waiting list you should apply as soon as possible after arriving in Canada. There are some restrictions for families using the immigration sponsoring program. For more information go to www1.toronto.ca; in the Living in Toronto section click on Children Services and Child Care Fee Subsidy.
If your caseworker says that you are not eligible for the Child Care Fee Subsidy Program and you want to appeal a decision regarding your eligibility, discuss it first with a caseworker. In Toronto, you may contact the Children's Services Client Liaison Consultant at 416-397-1262. The Client Liaison Consultant will prepare your appeal and forward it to the Appeal Committee on your behalf. Then you will be contacted by the District Office and will be advised of the final Appeal Committee decision.
10. Am I eligible for the Child Care Fee Subsidy Program?
At the website www1.toronto.ca, after following the steps above, you will be able to access the Fee subsidy calculator. Using this calculator you will find out if you qualify for the Child Care Fee Subsidy Program and how much you would have to pay for child care. After entering the number of children who need child care in such categories as infants, toddlers, preschool, kindergarten, and school-age, and both parents’ income for the last tax year, you will find if you are eligible for the Child Care Fee Subsidy Program. If you are a new immigrant to Canada this year, you may apply without your most recent Tax Return.
11. Where can I find sources of additional information about child care in Canada?
Child care in Canada
Child care licensing in Ontario
Immunization and vaccines http://healthycanadians.gc.ca, Click on Health and Healthy living
A Parent’s Guide to Immunization
12. Are there any Canadian sources in other languages?
Choose quality care (in 24 languages) www.ontario.ca/page/find-and-pay-child-care.
What immunizations does my child need (in 12 languages) http://settlement.org, click on Education, then Elementary and Secondary School, then Enrol Your Child in School.
People for education "Choose a language" (in 15 languages) www.peopleforeducation.ca.
Information for parents (in 27 languages) www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/parents/multiLanguages.html.